‘We know cyber-security breaches can have a domino effect’
In a world increasingly driven by data, it’s never been more important for businesses to practise responsible data protections and reaffirm consumer confidence. Firms should be aware that commitment to data privacy is a fundamental part of a business’s license to operate in the modern economy. Those that don’t show such commitment could potentially lose a significant amount of their customer base.
The CBI recently launched a survey, Trust in Tech, at our annual Cyber-security Conference, where the research showed that how a company handles personal data is a top priority for potential customers and business partners. Almost nine out of 10 people regard good data security and the protection of personal information as the key priority for them when deciding where to spend their money.
The conference emphasised why developing a cyber-security strategy should be a top priority, for two main reasons. The first, of course, is that security itself is vital. As businesses increasingly move from the physical to the digital, cyber-security has become central to a company’s very existence.
But the second, and perhaps more unexpected reason is that cyber-security has a serious direct impact on consumer trust. The survey suggests that responsible data use is the number one reason a customer will stay loyal to a business. And irresponsible data use is the main motive for looking elsewhere. So, having a good cyber-security strategy will actually make a business more competitive.
But it’s not just about individual companies, we know that serious cyber-security breaches can have a domino effect and harm the way the public sees business as a whole. If you ask any CEO they’ll tell you that the fastest route to company extinction is a breakdown in trust. Whether firms spent years building up a reputation or minutes, all it takes is one incident to ruin it. Not only that, but data breaches undermine public trust in business and potentially have a ripple effect across the economy. In a world of scandals – whether it’s pay rows, tax avoidance, or sexual harassment – this trust is more important than ever.
Customer engagement needs to happen from day one, not just when things go wrong. Firms must keep these two questions in mind when creating a cyber-security strategy, ensuring that they’re using data in the way consumers expect and are telling people about it. If companies do this then they’ll go a long way in building up trust.
Cyber-security has to be a boardroom priority. It can’t be tackled by the IT team in isolation.
It’s clear that the reputation of business itself is at stake – so firms can, and must, do more. The most obvious revelation from our research is that the power to improve the reputation of business lies firmly in the hands of business itself.